IFSR Newsletter 2007 Vol. 25 No. 1 December
Why conversation and what form do they take?
The main reason for conversations as initiated by the IFSR was a dissatisfaction with the conventional style of conferences: An individual writes a paper, has 20 minutes to present it and then 10 minutes of questions. After that the conference is virtually over for the individual. Clearly, this format is not the most effective way to progress in the exchange and development of ideas on pressing major issues.
The experience we will have during the week at Fuschl is of quite a different nature. It is in the form of a conversation. Bela Banathy defined a conversation as follows:
A Conversation is:
- a collectively guided disciplined inquiry,
- an exploration of issues of social/societal significance,
- engaged by scholarly practitioners in self-organized teams,
- who select a theme for their conversation,
- which is initiated in the course of a preparation phase that leads to an intensive learning phase.
In the meantime some 45 Fuschl-type conversations have been held in many places around the world.
The first Fuschl conversation was held in 1980 in Fuschl. Fuschl is a beautiful, romantic little Austrian village on a small lake (Lake Fuschl) in lovely Salzkammergut, near Salzburg in Austria. It is surrounded by mountains of approx. 1600m height.
In summer it is beaming with life and tourists, in March/April it is quiet and sleepy, a good place to communicate, to listen and not to be disturbed by hectic, sightseeing tourists.
Traditionally at the Fuschl Conversation we will spend 5 days in intense discussion around our chosen themes and triggering questions.
We will have five teams with 6 participants each. The team members provide an ‘input paper’ prior to coming to Fuschl. In Fuschl they follow a set of conversation rules that guide their action (they modify the rules according to their needs during the initial stage of the conversation). They document and share their findings, prepare a team report, and often additional reflection papers that present their own findings. The IFSR publishes the outcome of the conversation in the form of proceedings (see Rules for the Fuschl Conversation, below).
Members take their experience with them and apply what they have learned in their own contexts of life. The conversation process never ends.
Steps in the Fuschl Conversation
Formation Phase (til Jan. 13, 2008)
Deadline: December 15, 2007
The five topics of the Fuschl Conversation are selected together with a short description of the topic and initial trigger questions. The designed Team Leaders (or an interim Team Leader) coordinates the initial formation of each team.
The Call for Participation is communicated to the Member societies, the Board Members, previous Fuschl participants and published on the web site and in the IFSR Newsletter. Addressees are invited to apply for participation or identify potential participants.
The Call for Participation asks potential participants to submit their application together with their input paper to the Team Leader with a copy to the Secretary General (Gerhard Chroust, email@example.com
Team members are selected by the Executive Committee in coordination with the Board Members and the Team Leaders in an ongoing fashion. The Secretary General will liaise with the Team Leaders etc. in order to select the participants. Logistic and financial considerations restrict the number of participants to about 30.
Deadline: December, 28, 2007
Initial round of nominations/application ends. The EC and the Team Leaders start planning for further accessing more potential participants and a first set of invitations is mailed.
Deadline: January 21, 2008
This is the deadline for submitting applications for participation and the arrival of the input paper! The input paper should be between one and three pages long and should suggest the directions for the discussion within the topic area of the team.
Deadline: January, 29, 2008
Invitations to the accepted participants will be issued by this date at the lastest.
All Team Leaders are assigned. The Team leader sends out the input papers to the team.
Deadline: February 18, 2008
Payment of the registration fee must have arrived at the Secretary General.
Preparation Phase (Jan 22 – March 26, 2008)
The participants of each team start under the coordination of the Team Leader by exchanging ideas and feedback with respect to the input papers. They refine their topic and agree on the set of final trigger questions for their conversation.
Deadline March 10, 2008
Each Team Leader prepares a short summary of key ideas from the input papers, including the selection of a coherent range of trigger questions from the suggested ones and send it to the Secretary General for posting on the IFSR home page.
Learning Phase: the Conversation (Fuschl, Saturday March 29 – Thursday April 3, 2008)
On Saturday afternoon the learning phase begins in Fuschl at the Seehotel Schlick. The participants follow their course of Conversation, also communicating with the other teams. At the end of each day, the teams report on their progress.
At the end of the Fuschl Conversation each team prepares a short initial report of the outcome of their conversation. It present its findings to all participants.
A plan is developed how to accomplish the Dissemination Phase.
(There might be deviations from this over-all plan depending on the specific needs of the individual conversation teams.)
Dissemination Phase (April – November)
It is the teams’ duty and the explicit wish of the IFSR that the outcome of the Conversations be disseminated to a wider audience. This will be done by publishing a preliminary report in the IFSR Newsletter and later by publishing proceedings of the Conversation as a report of the Kepler University Linz with an ISBN-number.
15 July 2008
For each team an intermediate team report (1 to max. 2 pages) sent by the Team Leader to the Secretary General (G. Chroust) for inclusion in the IFSR Newsletter.
The Team reports are published in the IFSR Newsletter.
20 October 2008
The final papers of the teams are sent to the Secretary General as editor to be incuded in the proceedings. Individual additional supporting papers should also be submitted.
Proceedings of the Fuschl Conversations are published as a report of the Kepler University Linz with an ISBN-Number. Each participant and the member Societies of the IFSR will receive a copy
Call for Participation
Fourteenth Fuschl Conversation
Saturday, March 29 to Thursday, April 3, 2004at Seehotel Schlick,, Seepromenade 355330 Fuschl am See, Austria
The Fuschl 2008 Conversations will to a large extent be the continuation of the Conversations held until 2004, taking into considerations the outcome of the Fuschl Conversation 2006.
The following five topics are planned for the Fuschl 2008 Conversation. Note that depending on the response by our members, changes will be made. This could be both an expansion and a reduction of the topic.
For each Team we list the Team Leader (in some cases an interim one) who will help starting the team, taking care of the initial formation of the team, helping to find participants, modifying trigger questions etc.
Team 1: Basic Concepts of Systems Sciences
Interim Team Leader: Gordon Dyer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This team would include deans and professors from universities involved in administrating programs and teaching courses focused on systems research and applications. This would be based on the work done in 2006, gathering information about current systems programs and courses, as well as proposing new concepts for integrating systems courses and concepts into universities.
(1.1) What concepts must a person know in order to call him/herself a ‘systems scientist’?
(1.2) Can we establish an ontology of systems concepts using Charles Francois’ Encyclopaedia.
(1.3) Can we define a Systems Science Body of Knowledge?
(1.4) What are existing / desirable University programs and courses – how much are they covering, compatible with (1.1.) and (1.3)
(1.5) Given the fuzzy borders of Systems Sciences would it be helpful to separate the field into LARGE subfields, similar to e.g. informatics (practical, applied, theoretical).
(1.6) Given that in Fuschl we cannot fully solve these questions, what is an appropriate road-map to achieve it, what should be the collaborators and what is the time frame?
Topic 2: The trajectory of systems research and practice
Team Leader: David Ing (email@example.com)
The team would include individuals with experience in both systems research and practice and/or experience in industry, academia and/or public policy. The discussants should appreciate Lewin’s idea that “there’s nothing as practical as a good theory”, with an emphasis on the relevance, evolution and usefulness of systems research.
(2.1) In which domains are systemic foundations — either explicit or implicit — significant and valuable for practice and methods?
(2.2) Which organizations or institutions represent centers of competency and/or continuing development of systems knowledge?
(2.3) How could systems research contribute to extending and/or linking the knowledge centers?
(2.4) How can systems research respond to changes in institutions (public, private, not-for-profit) and technology (wikis, blogs, voice over Internet)?
(2.5) What are the limits of systems research — past and current — and is overcoming those limits feasible on a mid-term (e.g. 5-year) horizon?
(2.6) What role can the IFSR play and what are the requirements?
Topic 3: Disseminating, Accessing and Communicating Systems Knowledge
Interim Team Leader: Gerhard Chroust (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This proposed team would include current managers of systems archives, of systems journals as well as systems historians, communication experts and others who could contribute to the preservation and dissemination of seminal systems literature and information. The team would also need human engineering and psychological experts. The team members must also have some understanding of multi-cultural issues.
(3.1) How can we increase the accessibility of contemporary articles/books/journals on systems more effectively using modern technology, ?
(3.2) How can we increase the dissemination of systems research ideas and achievements?
(3.3) Can we design recommender system and assessment procedures to identify important publications?
(3.4) How could we organize an information base to help people to find relevant information and pointers (given our limited resources!) ?
(3.5) How can we preserve, analyze, record and make available publications of historical value and legacies of great systems scientists?
(3.6) Could we compile a catalogue of the locations of important systems materials?
(3.7) What modern means can be established to connect both our member societies and their members better?
(3.8) How could such a system look, given that many of our members are not really interested in technology and just want to ‘use’ a system?
Topic 4: Marketing Systems Ideas and Research projects to industry, politics and the general public
Interim Team Leader: Gary Metcalf (email@example.com)
This team would include both individuals involved in funding systems research as well as those experienced in writing and administering grants, or joint programs of systems research and application between industry and government or universities, especially in view of shaping governmental policies to include systemic perspectives. Its goal would be to propose the best current sources and new possibilities for funding systems research and applications especially the exploration of current policies which most reflect systemic perspectives and proposals about the ways of affecting future policies.
(4.1) What would be projects which IFSR can propose to the European Commission, given its limited resources?
(4.2) What would be projects which could be proposed to industry?
(4.3) What new organizational entities would the IFSR need to accomplish (4.1) and (4.2)?
(4.4) What additional organization would the IFSR need to perform projects like (4.1) and (4.2)?
(4.5) Which current policies (on any governmental level) most strongly reflect systemic perspectives?
(4.6) What are feasible ways of affecting future policies?
(4.7) How can we make systemic ideas more popular and implant them into normal people’s thinking
Topic 5: Quality and Excellence in Systems Research
Team Leader: Matjaz Mulej (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This team would include individuals experienced in assessing, judging quality of systems research (journal editors, teachers, conference organizers, members of academies …), experienced in working in high-quality/high excellence institutions (academies etc.). Its goal would be the identify forms of organisation and mechanisms to identify and highlight excellent achievements in the system sciences.
(5.1) What are key quality issues in systems research?
(5.2) How could an Academy of Systems Research and Cybernetics work? What are the Needs, Challenges, Structure?
(5.3) How can we establish cooperation between excellence centers of system Research?
(5.4) What means/organizations exist now or are?